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Library Resources for MSN Students: PICO(TS)

This guide provides information on how best to utilize library resources throughout your MSN program at the College of Nursing.


The PICO(TS) Method is used to take a research question and break it down into searchable concept groups. The acronym stands for:

P = patient, population, problem, phenomenon

= intervention, exposure

C = comparison

O = outcome

T = timeframe

S = setting

There are many different ways to use this method, and there are no restrictions on how many concepts can be within each letter category. (For instance, you might have a patient and a problem.) I would caution against searching for outcomes; this could potentially cause selection bias in your search results where you only find results to support your hypothesis or argument.

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